Collective Custom Build

Not enough homes are being built in the UK to meet needs, while a small number of volume house-builders deliver quantities of generic housing in chunks as long as the market is booming. But what happens when people get together and think about what they need - rather than what the house-builders want to give them? Can we re-prioritise liveability over short-term profit? In other countries, it is relatively common for people to build their own homes and for self-provision to represent a viable procurement route for housing. 

Carried out in collaboration with the architecture school of the University of Sheffield, our practice-based research project presented a model for how people in the UK might engage collectively in the production of housing and demonstrated that the aspiration of building your own home is not just for the well-off. The outcome was a report, Motivating Custom Build, and an animated website, which provides a rich and lively online resource for people who want to get together and build their own homes.

Awards at the Royal Docks Charrette

Jury Award for Meaningful Engagement with Local Communities, Context and Identity

People's Choice Award

Aerial views of the three options for development:

Option 1 restricts itself to land already in the public ownership.

Option 2 makes strategic interventions requiring additional land assembly.

Option 3 is transformative, optimising the site's potential.

An annotated plan of development Option 3, which provides 471 new homes including 163 affordable, 800 jobs, new boat moorings, an entirely new public realm, a pedestrian bascule bridge, a water taxi service to and from Cowes and a 474 space car park surrounded by co-working uses.

We paid careful attention to colour and finish, aiming to create an ambience well attuned to the spirit of Chapter by being both reassuring and exciting.

Original Edwardian glazed tilework, previously concealed, has been exposed and supersize lettering, vintage wallpapers and elements of strong colour have been deployed to good effect.

The palette of architectural textures - brickwork, timber lathes, whitewashed stonework and two-colour tarmac - makes the space feel grounded and robust.

Quayside market colonnade with apartments over.

Aerial view of the Caravanserai identifying the components that made up its final state.

A view of the proposals from Station Road, looking north west across Vicarage Field.

Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos

Nineteenth century map of Deptford showing London's first railway

Read more about the thinking behind this project:

Ashford's new Odeon Cinema on opening night in 1932.

Deptford Station goods yard before redevelopment as Deptford Market Yard.

Tibby's Triangle  is in a Conservation Area and adjacent to many listed buildings including the Grade I listed St Edmund's Church from whose tower this photo was taken.

Mudlarking: drama and circus used as part of the process of placemaking

A feast at The Longest Table in London - with its own roof.


Cristina Cerulli, Fionn Stevenson and Sam Brown - School of Architecture, University of Sheffield

Home Improvements Knowledge Exchange

David Birkbeck - Design for Homes Funding: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Web Design: Sam Brown with Hush

Animation: Ash Sakula with Wrench & Franks